Donald Lambro

A fiery political battle was raging among House Republicans this week over a temporary budget bill to keep the government funded when the new fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.

While the nation is focused on the civil war in Syria, a budgetary civil war is being fought out here among House Republican leaders who want to avoid a government shut down and rank-and-file conservatives who want to defund President Obama's health care program in the pending budget plan.

House Speaker John Boehner and the rest of his GOP leadership have put together a budget that skirts a direct defunding of Obamacare that couldn't pass the Democrat-controlled Senate anyway.

Instead, Boehner and his deputies have crafted a budget that contains a resolution to defund Obama's Affordable Care Act. But this provision is structured in a way to let the Senate vote it down and send the rest of the bill on to the White House for the president's signature.

Thus, the House avoids triggering another government shut down crisis, but forces Senate Democrats to cast an up or down vote on ending Obama's unpopular health insurance law.

That would be one of the most consequential votes of the 2013-14 election year cycle when Senate Democrats are facing many more tight election battles than their GOP counterparts. A number of them are from Republican "red" states where Obamacare is politically lethal.

But Boehner's plan has run into a buzz saw of opposition from tea party Republicans in the House and from outside conservative groups. Many want the budget to delay funds for Obamacare's implementation for a year in the hope the GOP will win back the Senate in 2014 and be able to kill it outright. Others want it killed outright.

As of Wednesday, GOP leaders admitted they did not have enough votes to pass their budget as it is drafted and delayed any vote until next week.

"There's going to be tremendous pressure on the conference to vote against this idea," said GOP Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana. He wants a one year Obamacare delay to be part of any agreement to raise the debt limit next month.

House Republicans were also being bombarded by fierce e-mails from anti-tax, budget-cutting groups like the Club for Growth and Freedom Works.

"First Boehner betrayed us by supporting Obama's war in Syria. Now he wants to trick you into supporting ObamaCare," e-mailed Freedom Works president Matt Kibbe. "Boehner is jumping through hoops to help Barack Obama and betray the American people."

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.